Ask people what is the most important yearly event in pro wrestling and 99 out of 100 will respond with “Wrestlemania.” One smark just to be a contrarian will throw out New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom, but give them the stink-eye for a minute or two they will buckle and say Wrestlemania as well. Wrestlemania, brainchild of Vince McMahon and the biggest of the so called “Big Four” WWE events (the others being Summerslam, Survivor Series, and the Royal Rumble) is more than a simple PPV, it is a fun on media event where WWE takes over a city for a weekend offering multiple events both in and out of the ring throughout the weekend for fans to enjoy. Other promotions, knowing that said city will be flooded with wrestling fans, throw big events of there own in and around the area, which only add to the madness and spectacle.
This Sunday is Wrestlemania 33, marked with the ever annoying tag line this year “The Ultimate Thrill Ride.” Taking a look at the show itself, fans have had several big questions surrounding this year’s Wrestlmania, I’m here to cover what I find the top five biggest and most interesting questions and offer my thoughts on them.
Ring the bell.
5. Are There Too Many Multi-Person Match-ups?
Counting the Kickoff Show, will have five of the thirteen currently scheduled matches for Wrestlemania 33 will feature four or more wrestlers. Normally I am the first one to celebrate multi-person matches, but this might be a smidge excessive.
Wrestlemania is built differently then things like Survivor Series and the Rumble which are designed to highlight and focus on there respective multi-person matches, it has a hard time juggling anything more than three multi-person matches without feeling bloated.
With the brand split back in effect and WWE’s insistence to put every marketable name into the mix puts the overall show in jeopardy. The issue here is one of crowd burnout, the level of excitement at Wrestlemania is taxing on the fans. Crowds can only maintain a certain level of hype for so long before they lose interest or even worse sour on the event entirely. One wrong move can push the stadium audience over the edge and once that happens their anger and/or frustration can ruin things for the viewers at home as well. I’m already cringing thinking about how many times I’m going to hear the dreaded “CM Punk” chant.
Multi-person matches are more mentally taxing to a crowd because of all the added sensory input of watching all the wrestlers and catching everything going on. Good versions of these matches often run long to give all the wrestlers time to get there stuff in and to make sure they don’t do big spots all at the same time, but that can push the runtime of the show well past the audience’s ability to care and they may not respond as desired for the following matches. On the flip side, if they run the matches short they run the risk of pissing off the audience for wasting their time which can also bring down the other matches. Careful spacing of these matches along with a strong read on the crowd will be crucial to pull this off, a feat which WWE hasn’t had the best track record hitting as of late. We’ll see if WWE can roll with the punches come Sunday.
4. Will Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles Be Any Good?
The short answer is “yes”. AJ Styles is so good at wrestling at this point is he could have a match with a crash test dummy and make it entertaining. But this is Wrestlemania, fans don’t want to see a good match, they want to see something fantastic, and the jury is still out as to if this pairing can deliver something t that level. I take nothing away from Shane McMahon, the guy has all the heart and balls in the world and loves to prove the falsehood of the the idea that “white men can’t jump” every time he steps into the ring for a fight, but people were hungry to see AJ go against some top tier talent. Instead we have a dude that is an admittedly past his prime part-time wrestler known for throwing out one or two big spots instead of a solid worker that can bring out the best in AJ. I love me some Shane-O-Mac, but facts are facts.
I suppose that this match-up goes to show just how much faith the WWE has in AJ Styles, not only to protect Shane but to deliver the best match possible. Honest to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I well and truly want this match to be great, but the risk of it being only okay is pretty high. While Shane’s leap from the top of the Hell in a Cell in his match against the Undertaker at last year’s Mania was the moment of the show, the match taken in its entirety was underwhelming. If they pull of some top notch stuff one of the loudest voices cheering will be my own.
3. Will Mauro Ranallo Be There? If So, How Much?
Without question, Mauro Ranallo is the most beloved member of the current WWE announce team. His extensive knowledge of moves, holds, and wrestling history along with his innate ability to imbue his commentary with a sense of genuine enthusiasm has left many of the matches he’s called all the better for it. Unfortunately, Mauro has missed the last few Smackdown Lives due to mental health issues.
Ranallo was diagnosed with bipolar depression at a young age. He has been very open and honest about his struggles in the best and most encouraging way possible. Many have speculated that he wouldn’t be at Wrestlmania, an idea that seems all but confirmed given a recent tweet from Mauro.
Mental health is important and I respect and appreciate Ranallo’s need to take care of himself first, but his voice will be missed during the show. There is still the off chance Mauro may pop up in some limited capacity, but I would only encourage that if he’s in the the right place mentally to do it. Take care Mauro, hope you come back soon!
2. Is John Cena Going To Propose To Nicki Bella?
Anybody for cheese? All joking aside, this looks to be a really fun match and the promo work from both couples has been stupendous to put it moderately. The real question here isn’t which side picks up the win (I’m pulling for the Miz and Maryse by the way), but will John Cena pop the question after the match.
It’s well documented that Cena isn’t big on the institution of marriage since his divorce years ago and that while long term girlfriend Nikki respects this, she would like to officially tie the knot. The rumor mill has been abuzz about the chances of Cena proposing. Nobody knows for sure if Cena and the WWE are really going to pull the trigger on this, and to be honest, I don’t think the show needs it. Sure, it would be a feelgood moment and I would be happy for John and Nicki, but I don’t think it will invalidate anything if they decide not to do it. It’s the cherry on top of the sundae, not needed but certainly appreciated.
1. Will They Just Turn Roman Reigns Heel Already?
Seriously, can this just happen so we can be over and done with it? For the last few years WWE has been pushing Roman Reigns as one of the top babyfaces in the company, a run that has been as well received as a wet fart. It is if Vinnie Mac can’t let the idea of Roman as a face go, it feels like he’s forced the audiences mouth open with the Jaws of Life and continuously works to shove this large sweaty Samoan man down our gullets all the while shouting that this is what we really wanted. I wish I was being glib when I say that if Roman wins clean there may well be riots.
A heel turn at the show of shows against one of the most beloved characters in all of wrestling history like the Undertaker is just what the doctor ordered to fix this mess. It takes all the animosity built up for Roman and puts it to work in his favor. The problem with Reigns has nothing to do with his abilities in the ring, he happens to be a much better wrestler than most people give him credit for, but this tone-deaf booking has done nothing but alienate fans and keep Roman from reaching his full potential. It’s mea culpa time, WWE, admit you were wrong and move on.